land and wave logo colour

How I Became an Outdoor Instructor | Boring Office to Epic Outdoors

Outdoor Instructor – that isn’t a real job…is it?

I thought the same; a bunch of gap year students taking holidaymakers on kayaking trips round the pier or walking tours delivered on the weekends by retired school teachers. Hardly a viable market in the UK economy. Horrendous working patterns, low wages and the knowledge that your employment will only last until the end of august. No thank you. 

Take a closer look though and you’ll see the UK adventure and outdoor sector is a thriving industry; accelerated by the covid pandemic UK tourists, corporate team-builders, schools and youth groups. The national appetite for the outdoors is HUNGRY!

Outdoor companies across the UK are taking full advantage of this seemingly insatiable appetite. Land & Wave has seen its adventure school trip visitors forecast grow by over 15%, no mean feat for any business. So is the Outdoor Industry run on the labour of gap year teens and van dwellers? In a nutshell NO.

Your Skill Diversity Is Needed in the Outdoors

The simple fact of the matter is that Outdoor companies offer the ultimate workplace for employee skill diversity. Product testers, marketers, finance, compliance, operations, logistics. All these job roles are geared towards giving their customers the safest and best experience in the outdoors and being savvy enough to flip a profit whilst doing it.

You mean it’s a real career path for real adults? You’ve got to be kidding. Getting paid to jump in the sea, play in the woods and take people on paddleboard tours? How can it be possible? My thoughts exactly.

I took a big chance and quit a good job to embark on my career as an outdoor instructor. Maybe you’re in the same boat, if you are thinking about making the move then consider this…

Outdoor instructor doing bushcraft in the woods

My story in reflective third person…

June 2018 – Owen leaves his job at Paul Clark Consulting as a sales manager. Tired of the appointment setting, sales-pitching, cold-calling work he’s decided that he wants something more for himself.

With no real plan, Owen drifts from sales to erecting Tipis; he enjoys it, but it’s seasonal work and the work begins to dry up in September. At least it ticks one big box… he’s outside.

As a kid, Owen had always loved outdoor activities. His parents would take him and his brother on lots of trips across Europe, hiking mountains, canoeing rivers and bodyboarding at sandy beaches. He knows he wants to work in the outdoor adventure industry and finds the Outdoor Instructor Training page on Land & Wave’s website. 

September 2018 – Owen jumps in the car and is heading down to an open day at Land & Wave. He’s greeted by a large bearded man and his even larger dog who promptly invites him and the other attendees to put on some wetsuits and hop in the bus.

The man (also called Owen) takes the group coasteering at Dancing Ledge and before long we’re all chatting like old friends. A ‘Q&A’ at the end of the day follows, but his mind was already made up; he wants to do this course and enter the outdoor industry. 

Outdoor Instructor Training Begins

October 2018 – The Outdoor Instructor Training course begins on the 31st October; four months of training begins. Food and accommodation are all included in the cost, so there’s no distractions. Everyday is spent doing something brilliant; canoeing, kayaking, climbing, coasteering.

Every evening you’re surrounded by like minded people and don’t have to do the washing up so there’s even more time to go and do fun stuff.

March 2019 – The Outdoor Instructor Training course ends in February and you have a month off before the UK summer season begins in the Outdoor Industry. Owen has taken a seasonal role at Land &Wave that he can’t wait to begin. The Season bills to be one of Land & Waves biggest, a super busy summer lays ahead. Time to put all that training into practice…

October 2019 – It’s all over! Seven months have flown by. Owen has made friends for life and seen his childhood dream come to fruition, a career pathway in the outdoors. He signs off for Land & Wave and Looks for the next challenge, but we all know what happens next…

Don’t mention the ‘C’ Word…

March 2021 – the Outdoor Industry, bruised and battered from the ravages of Covid, raises itself for the coming year. Many centres, council funded and private, have shut their doors for good following the pandemic. Those that survived though exist in a different world. The physical and mental value of the great outdoors is apparent to all and the companies left to facilitate our adventure are few.

An excellent business standpoint, Owen begins his second season for Land & Wave and conversations surrounding a full time employment shortly follow. The summer season is a busy one, the ‘Staycation’ is strong and the UK population has money in the bank from a year of hermitage. Owen is offered his first full time employment in the outdoors in August and prepares to teach on the Outdoor Instructor Training Course he finished only two years ago.

Full Time Work in the Outdoors

November 2022 – Tapping away at a keyboard listening to the November rain on the office roof, Owen reflects on his pathway into the outdoors. He took a punt on a company he’s grown to love. He gained skills and valuable experience that put him in good stead to walk into an outdoor adventure role and most importantly he’s replenished that dent in his savings account left by the Outdoor Instructor Training course.

As with any job these days, there is going to be an element of administration and office work; but it’s a small part of Owens role now at Land & Wave, he delivers RLSS Beach Lifeguard courses, Bushcraft Instructor Courses and assists many other fellow professional outdoor coaches, each teaching their own specialisms. He looks forward to coming to work and can’t wait for the summer to roll round so it can all happen again. 

What I’m trying to say is…

So there it is. My reflection on my career into the outdoors. It’s been a bumpy ride and the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time, but I wouldn’t change it now. If you can draw any parallels from my story then I can only encourage you to take the leap yourself.

The outdoor industry as a whole is growing, demand for outdoor adventure experiences is at an all time high and not set to drop any time soon. 

Basically what I’m trying to say is that it IS a real grown up job for real grown ups.  Find out how you can change your career here .

Outdoor Instructor Training lasts 15 weeks and provides 16 excellent outdoor qualifications that will launch your career in the industry. Outdoor Instructor Training costs £9,900 and includes specialist coaching, assessments, food accommodation and a comprehensive kit package to keep you safe and warm.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that it IS a real grown up job for real grown ups

Share this article

Duke of edenburgh
Outdoor learning logo
Wildlife safe operator logo

Copyright © – Land and Wave – 2022